The Fighting Sawyer Brothers



With 13 children in the house, there was bound to be some bickering within the Sawyer family. And with six boys, things got physical from time to time.

The boxing brothers, Elliot, left, and Lloyd Sawyer of Bar Harbor.—MARK GOOD
The boxing brothers, Elliot, left, and Lloyd Sawyer of Bar Harbor.—MARK GOOD

With 13 children in the house, there was bound to be some bickering within the Sawyer family. And with six boys, things got physical from time to time.

The “self-protection” skills learned during the squabbles served three of the brothers well. Lloyd and his older brothers, Elliot (nicknamed “Squeak”), and Harrison all went on to become boxers at a time when Bar Harbor boasted matches at three different locations. Elliot is now 86; Harrison is deceased.

They all learned the sport at the YMCA in Bar Harbor, when they were in their early teens.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the major venue for boxing matches on Mount Desert Island was Dreamwood Stadium, an outdoor sports arena that has long since been torn down. Fights and wrestling matches were held monthly at night in the outdoor stadium, under lights.

The venue attracted some big names in boxing. One-time heavyweight champion of the world Max Baer fought there. And there were plenty of young local residents ready to jump into the ring. Before the matches, the first fight of the night often would feature two teenagers, Elliot and Harrison. Sometimes Elliot would win; other times Harrison would. But the real payoff came after the match.

“The crowd would throw money in the ring,” Lloyd said.

With 15 mouths to feed, the money came in handy. Elliot and Harrison also boxed at two other Bar Harbor venues – both on Cottage Street – the now-demolished Casino, and at the Criterion Theatre.

For more community news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]